NEW BRAUNFELS — At the start of the year, the St. Joseph Flyers were not sure they would even have a season.
Yet on Saturday, they faced a titanic matchup when they traveled to the TAPPS 5A Volleyball State Championship.
The defending state champion, Carrolton Prince of Peace Eagles, were waiting for them. St. Joseph head coach Christa Swanlund described that program as “notoriously strong.”
Yet on the day, it was the Lady Flyers who came away with the victory, defeating the Eagles 3-0 with their third sweep of the postseason to claim their second state championship in three years.
“It feels so unreal,” said senior Taylor Foeh. “Right when the game was over, so many of us were just brought to tears because it’s such an amazing feeling. It’s so great that we actually got to finish a season and win a state championship.”
Game 1 lived up to expectations. It was the Eagles who jumped out to an early lead and led 10-5 at their peak. Still, the Lady Flyers were resilient, chipping away at the score with each point.
The Lady Flyers and Eagles each fought off game-points, but it was St. Joseph, which squeaked ahead, stealing Game 1 with a 29-27 score.
“We really talked about pushing points, being the first to little marks along the way,” said senior Maiya Tillman. “I think that really helped us keep our mental toughness up and really fight to the finish.”
Game 2 seemed to be a reversal of the first. This time, the Lady Flyers jumped out to an early lead and led by as many as 5 points for most of the second period.
The Eagles staged a comeback of their own, fending off three game-points, but the Flyers closed it out with a 25-22 victory to go up 2-0 in the series.
“We kept saying we’re not going to let go, we’re gonna calm down, keep fighting every point,” Foeh said. “They started to come back but we were persistent and went hard the rest of the whole game.”
Game 3 proved to be the closest of them all through the early stages. The two teams traded leads but were deadlocked most of the time. Then, the Lady Flyers clicked into gear.
St. Joseph closed out the third period on a 12-4 run to take Game 3, 25-17 and claim the state championship.
Tillman, Foeh, senior Madison Korinek and junior Kerigan Baumgartner were all named to the all-tournament team.
“I didn’t even realize it was in our reach until we got this close,” Swanlund said.” For those three seniors, I’m so proud of them and happy for them. I know this is something they really wanted.”
TAPPS 5A State Championship
St. Joseph 3, Carrollton Prince of Peace 0
St. Joseph: 29 25 25
Carrollton Prince of Peace: 27 22 17
Highlights: (SJ) Maiya Tillman, 17 kills, 16 digs; Ryan Ward, 10 kills, 6 blocks, 4 digs; Kerigan Baumgartner, 10 kills, 7 digs, 2 blocks, 2 assists; Taylor Foeh, 5 kills, 6 blocks, 1 dig; Rhiana Reyes, 13 digs, 4 assists; Madison Korinek, 24 assists, 10 digs, 1 block; Morgan Korinek, 13 assists, 5 kills, 8 digs, 1 block. Record: St. Joseph 17-5.